Have you noticed that advertisers, presenters, and business colleagues are peppering their communications with lots of jargon these days?
It’s become a problem in organizations of all sizes and types. Jargon limits people’s understanding of the topic being discussed, leaving employees and customers confused. Some business buzzword users may be trying to show off their pool of knowledge but most aren’t even aware they’re doing it.
Beware of using business buzzwords in your communications. It’s an easy way to lose your audience.
Precision gets trumped by ambiguity.
Business jargon is the use of specialized words or vocabulary in speech or writing that is only known to a specific group, department, or industry. It’s often associated with larger words that aren’t specific or lack real meaning. When someone communicates using jargon, the recipient can’t fully comprehend the meaning or take the required action because the terminology is too vague for interpretation.
Professionals are often the biggest culprits.
Some occupations seem to find it impossible to communicate without using obscure verbiage. Doctors, computer experts, attorneys, and accountants, for instance, are all about the acronyms and business jargon. They frequently use abbreviations and unfamiliar Latin words. A TIA, for instance, is a Transient Ischaemic Attack, or a mini-stroke in layman’s terms. Most professions have a specialist lexicon of terms and abbreviations that mean nothing to the average person, including their clients and patients.
Be on the lookout for corporate speak, too.
Generic sector-specific business buzzwords, also known as “corporatese” or “workplace jargon” are also running rampant. They can make great sound bites but these cliched phrases are ripe for misinterpretation. And due to their overutilization, they’re seen as vague and empty fillers. Hackneyed corporate buzzwords are a common cause of miscommunication and they add nothing to the message.
Follow these tips to remove the meaningless jargon from your communications:
- Bolster belonging.
Corporate jargon can alienate employees. Not everyone has command of the English language and for many people, English is their second or third language. Attempting to speak above them is arrogant and disrespectful. Remember that we have a global workforce with people hailing from all backgrounds, languages, and cultures. With every word you speak or write, strive to communicate it in a way that is understandable for everyone.
- Seek commonality.
The more specialized the field of business, the more likely it is that its language won’t reflect everyday English. Avoid using terms that are only applicable within a specialized field and that few people will comprehend. Ask yourself, “Would a sixth grader understand what I’m saying?” If not, change your wording.
- Make it simple to receive your message.
Plain, basic words are easier to understand. Period. Do you know what precipice means? Wireframe? Solutioneering? Listeners should not be trying to decode what you’re saying, especially if you are trying to guide, educate, or influence them in some way. You want people to fully and easily grasp your message. They will never hear your amazing value proposition or the benefits they stand to gain if they’re struggling to figure out what you’re saying.
- Review presentations and documents in detail.
If you’ve created a script, document, or presentation, go through it in detail and highlight any abbreviations, specialist jargon, or business buzzwords. Then consider your audience and ask yourself, “How confident am I that everyone will understand what these words or phrases mean?” Test out your assumptions on a few colleagues or friends. And be sure to explain any unfamiliar terminology or abbreviations when you use them for the first time in your speech or document.
- If you’re on the receiving end of confusing business jargon, speak up.
People may not understand the terminology or jargon being used, but they rarely ask for clarification. They may fear that they will seem ignorant or think they should be more knowledgeable about the lingo. There’s no shame in failing to grasp terminology you’ve never heard before or that’s reserved for industry professionals. If you are unsure about a phrase, acronym, or buzzword, ask for clarification. There are sure to be others in the audience who will appreciate your inquiry.
Follow these simple guidelines to boost the effectiveness and power of your communications. Anything you can do to minimize the risk of misinterpretation is good for your credibility and your business.
Does your organization have a jargon problem or are your communications suffering? The HR Team can help! For more than 25 years, we’ve been delivering strategic guidance and seasoned insights to organizations of all types and sizes. Please contact our knowledgeable professionals to learn more.
About The HR Team: Founded in 1996, The HR Team is a Maryland-based human resources outsourcing firm committed to developing strategic, customized solutions that respond to the unique needs and cultures of organizations of all types and sizes. Available as a one-source alternative to an in-house HR department or on an à la carte project basis, the company’s flexible service models address the full spectrum of HR needs that many organizations struggle to address. The HR Team helps clients achieve their highest level of success by providing value-driven human resources services that leave them time to focus on what they do best: directing business growth and profitability. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, the firm serves all of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. To learn more about The HR Team, call 410.381.9700 or visit https://www.thehrteam.com/.